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Modern Theatre in Context: A Critical Timeline

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Bertram Brooker

Bertram Brooker edits his first Yearbook of the Arts in Canada 1928-1929, for Macmillan.

His seminal introduction to the collection, "When We Awake!" asserts that one of the impediments to artistic creativity in Canada was the fact that "that rapprochement between audience, critic and artist which is necessary to the establishment of an art, native or otherwise, has…been very difficult, if not impossible, in Canada up to the present time."

In his nationalistic clarion call, Brooker asserts that "the background against which our artists must work is split up into the following incongruous and disassociated elements":

--a country that is not unified geographically.

--a people that is not unified racially.

--a history that centres about a few picturesque personalities and events, failing to unify for us our past as a people.

--a population too small to provide an adequate audience for artists.

--a general conception of art that lacks any hint of national consciousness, but clings instead to old notions of connoisseurship borrowed from feudal times and countries.

--a disruption of the settling process, which might in time have unified some aspects of Canadian life, by the mechanization of civilisation all over the world.

--a destruction of ethical-philosophic-religious stability by the encroaching scepticism of a science-ridden age."

Brooker's edition of a second Yearbook of the Arts in Canada is published in 1936.